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Creating Desire: The Heart of Branding


People make buying decisions with their hearts and try to justify those decisions with their heads. Yet true desire can’t be rationalized. How many times have you yourself said, “I dunno… I just WANT it!”

burning_heart_by_dracu_teufel666-d49u67jBrand advertising takes an otherwise ho-hum product and incites a burning passion in the buyer’s mind. The product becomes associated with a certain lifestyle, frame of mind or emotional state. This is the soul of aspirational branding.

“What’s Love Got to Do with It?” ~ Tina Turner, circa 1984

The mark of an exceptional branding campaign is when your audience feels passion. And how can we inspire passion?

An effective brand gets the message across as succinctly, as efficiently as possible. It says that something really great is now available, and savvy folks can take advantage of it. Does that sound a bit like romance? It should. And marketers have capitalized on it from the beginning.

Take for example a slice of this car commercial from the early 1990′s. A sexy middle-aged celebrity spokeswoman enters the frame of a pale fog gray set, the kind where the floor meets the wall at some indistinct point in the infinite background.

Her eyes sparkle. There’s a slight bounce in her step, but she’s cool and confident. The soft lighting adds a whisper of halo to her honey colored hair.

She’s there with The Car, speaking in direct address to the camera. “Cars are like men. Some you want to date, some you want to marry.”

Zing! And there it is: tightly focused, painfully poignant, reaching through the television and clenching the heart of women across the land.

So what is this ad saying?

“Are you in, or are you out? You love this car, that’s clear. Are you going to buy it or take a walk? If you want to be like me, then do what I do. Drive what I drive. Live my lifestyle. Decide you’re worth it. But do decide. Time’s up!”

With the right branding, desire turns attraction into commitment. It cuts to the chase and drives the point home with such crystalline clarity, it makes the buyer say, “I dunno… I just WANT it!” before they can even formulate the idea into words.

In the blink of an eye, all doubt is removed. It’s only a matter of their finding a rational justification to support the purchase.

Where do I sign?

Vance Packard, author of The Hidden Persuaders, made it his mission to demystify the world of advertising for the average consumer. Though his slant was a bit biased against advertisers, his points can be mined for effective use in everyday business branding.

Packard identified eight human needs that effective branding appeals to. These essential eight needs include emotional security, reassurance of worth, ego-gratification, creative outlets, love objects, a sense of power, a sense of roots, and immortality.

Speaking to these basic human needs means meeting your prospect at their deepest level. It means speaking their language, and giving them permission to invest in with you.

When your brand’s message speaks convincingly to these core desires, the response from the buyer is automatically primal. The only question they have left to ask is, “Where do I sign?”

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia. Check out cutting-edge work in the field of publishing with Katherine’s latest mobile app published by GOKO Publishing’s U.S. partner, Made For Success Publishing.


icon1April 27, 2015
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Aspirational Branding-What does THAT mean?


Let’s start by defining a prestigious brand. Does your brand promote a feeling of Aspiration? Better yet, does your brand have what it takes to kick start a movement?

How are you creating prestige for your brand, and what are you doing to influence your buyers?

Aspirational brands appeal to people who desire something better. They buy products with “prestige appeal.” From a business standpoint, businesses who sell products/services with prestige typically enjoy very high profit margins. When creating a Brand strategy, they will make ownership just out of reach for most people. Meaning, their buyers may need to aspire to engage.

On the other hand, an Inspirational brand is a product that’s produced to satisfy the wants or needs of everyday needs and desires. Basically, it’s a commodity like toothpaste or bananas. How do you inspire consumers to purchase a commodity product?

With an Inspiration brand, the logo on the label matters but does not align with the identity of the consumer. The product is commonplace. This applies to everyday things like orange juice, auto tires or coffee. The buyer believes quality varies across brands, but you have to shout to be heard above the noise in the marketplace through advertising and promotional tactics (i.e. direct mail, coupons or purchasing in-store display space).

The Absolute Opposite of Ordinary

The other day I received a direct mail piece that caught my attention. In fact, the skilled marketer who created this mailer “set the hook” so effectively that I have the brochure sitting next to my computer.

Yes, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I actually saved a piece of direct mail.

The tagline on the brochure says ” The Absolute Opposite of Ordinary.” Hmmm, I think.

This brand is obviously trying to distance itself from the commodity brand.

The product this company is selling has all the hallmarks of an aspirational brand. It is expensive. The brand is associated with quality. The products are rare and you don’t see many people using it. But when you do see this brand, the discerning eye takes notice. This is the perfect situation for an aspirational brand.

So I open-up the flyer and the first thing I note is the thick paper and high gloss printing. The photography used in the flyer is stunning – crisp in detail. The copy is minimalistic, so I can read it instantly. Here are some of the phrases they used:

“Discover the extraordinary details.”

“Take control.”

“We invite you to experience dynamic and distinctive driving, firsthand”

Well, if you haven’t guessed it yet this flyer was for a new model of car. But by the time I flipped to the 5th page of the flyer I was shocked by what I discovered. In my minds-eye the brand of this vehicle, Maserati, is out of my reach. But the “call to action” message in this flyer made me think differently….in fact, the arresting discovery made me think that I could aspire to own one of these vehicles. You see, the company is promoting a new model of Maserati that is priced lower to compete with mainstream luxury vehicles.

So all of a sudden, I’m their target market.

Exhilarating Performance is Just a Click Away

Your brand is at the core of what you do. What feelings or emotions does your business inspire in your customers? Think about how you present your brand, not just on your website but whenever you meet people, connect with them on social networks, or even in your direct mail flyers.

How are you setting yourself apart, making people aspire to own your product? What is it you do that makes you stand out from the crowd? Think about your brand around your unique strengths and go forth to generate a new level for your customer to aspire.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.






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icon1April 13, 2015
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Falling In Love With Your Future


Is there a secret formula for Leadership? No, it’s not really a secret.

Being an exceptional Leader requires passion, commitment and intuitive vision. In a word, it takes heart.

If you have a passion for the thrill and independence of being a Leader, plus you have the commitment to follow through on that passion, here is a breakout formula that can take you wherever you want to go. Falling in love with your future is as simple as letting your heart lead the way.

Research

Do-things-with-passion-or-not-at-all-Wherever-you-go-go-with-all-your-heartFirst you have to know where you’re going, so research is key. Find a successful cause or company similar to the one you envision leading. Study how it started and how it grew.

Next, learn all you can about the Leader behind it. Pick apart the Leadership style, and see if you can ferret out the steps or elements involved.

Devour books and publications related to your Leadership concept. Talk to other Leaders and ask them about their best practices.

Vision

A successful Leader is a bold visionary, seeing what others cannot. You have to be willing to follow that vision despite naysayers.

Many Leaders never finished college, but that hasn’t stopped them. Some visionaries started small companies that grew into large enterprises, such as Dell Computer. Other captains of industry chose to stay small, like your favorite neighborhood bistro or that consulting firm your friend owns in Kansas City.

Regardless of the size of their teams, they’ve all relied heavily on their vision – not necessarily on an MBA program.

Leaders handle ambiguity with ease and are fearless pacesetters. They get a thrill out of leading the way into unfamiliar territory and thumb their noses at the word “failure.”

Let other people manage the details for you, but keep a tight hold on your vision. You must be the guiding force that inspires your people to follow that vision. Shoulder the responsibility for the outcome, and hold yourself personally accountable. Let your passion for your cause show you the way. Focus on the big picture and trust others to focus on the details.

Strategy & Action

When you know where you’re going, the only thing missing is the strategy for getting you there combined with the courage to act. But this is no small thing. Jumping into Leadership without a strategic plan is like jumping in the ocean without knowing how to swim. You may reap unfortunate consequences and discover it all too late.

To create the strategic plan, picture your outcome exactly as you want it to be. Then write down your goals and objectives for achieving that vision. For each goal, create a strategy and a target date for achieving it. Begin with the end in mind, and work backwards until you reach the position you’re in today.

Assess your strengths. The odds are that you already possess the knowledge, skill and experience your team will draw upon. Now list all the strengths you can apply to reaching the object of your ambition.

Then appraise your challenges. Maybe they involve market penetration, profitability, expertise, competition or location. Challenges change as your objective changes. How will your challenges impact your goals?

Be willing to act. You can get things done by delegating, outsourcing or leveraging other people’s talents. Being a Leader means tapping untold reserves of innovation and unflagging determination. It means being willing to endure long, fast-moving days if you want to reap the rewards.

Get things done through delegation, and create a framework of people who can help you achieve your vision as a Leader. Even if your plan means working solo, you can benefit from accessing all kinds of talented consultants, vendors or subcontractors. Expect your framework to change as your vision grows, but build it only as big as you need it to be.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.






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icon1March 16, 2015
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Laughter is Good Medicine


“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” ~Mark Twain

If you are in a Leadership role, giving a presentation, or talking in front of a group, then you know how hard it can be at times to get your ideas across. Winning over your audience can be tough, especially if you don’t first establish some kind of rapport. You need to get them on track with you in order for them to hear your most salient points.

LaughThe good news is that there’s one trick that will almost always help make your job a whole lot easier. Use humor! From kings to pawns, everyone loves to laugh, take time out, and find relief from our all too serious world.

See what a new study by Bell Leadership Institute says about humor:

A new study by the Bell Leadership Institute in Chapel Hill, NC, found that when employees are asked to describe the strengths and weaknesses of senior colleagues in their organizations, “sense of humor” and “work ethic” are mentioned twice as much as any other phrases. Bell Leadership surveyed approximately 2,700 employees in a variety of workplace settings over a two-year period.

“Humor is a vital tool of leadership,” says Dr. Gerald D. Bell, the founder and CEO of Bell Leadership Institute. “People are used to associating laughter with the best medicine, but they are often surprised that ‘sense of humor’ is the phrase most frequently associated with the best in leaders.” Bell Leadership’s findings show that people appreciate leaders who have fun and work hard to get the job done. “Those who can combine a strong work ethic and sense of humor may have the leading edge in their organizations,” says Dr. Bell.

Humor serves as an effective tool for putting your clients, colleagues, listeners or readers at ease. It can break the ice and set a tone that helps loosen up the atmosphere. Humor makes your job easier and much more fun to do.

What is humor?

The topic of humor is highly subjective. One must be cautious about what they say or do so as not to be offensive to others in any way. The great news is it’s not expensive or time-consuming to put a laughter in the workplace. Share a funny story with your co-workers on your break, hold a joke contest, or if you have a great idea, pass it along to your supervisor. Employees who are happy and fulfilled are also more productive and motivated.

Even though the essence of humor itself is subjective, there is one definition that transcends every comedic law. Humor is the amusing build­up and release of tension.

Whether it’s in print, in media, or in a live setting, humor requires some degree of tension in order to be effective. This is why it’s such a great ice breaker in professional settings – the tension is already built in.

It’s also why people laugh when they’re uncomfortable or nervous. It’s the reason for gallows humor, and it even explains why some wakes are so full of laughter. When it’s applied in the right way, humor can be the perfect antidote for dark times.

How Can You Be Funny When You Mean Business?

Humor’s effect will always ride the emotional tide of your audience. Stay attuned to how your audience is feeling, and always assess the atmosphere you’re in to determine whether humor is a good choice.

How well you come across may depend on whose company you are in, where you find them in their work day, and how many pressures are distracting them. Other factors include the temperature of the room you’re in, their state of alertness, and even whether they have a headache or any number of other distractions.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to your humor’s effectiveness in persuading someone. Recognize that what may be funny to one person one day will not be funny the next, even if it’s the exact same joke told in the exact same way.

Often the mood or situation itself will make it obvious whether humor is appropriate. If you’re speaking in a religious setting, a certain amount of reverence and sobriety are naturally called for. But even here, some kinds of humor can help move your audience to your point of view.

Here are a few tips for using humor effectively:

Don’t Tell Jokes: The object of your humor is to break the ice. Because humor is so subjective, your well-­meaning joke may be funny to a few people but offend others. Even worse, it may bomb. Telling one bad joke at the start means you’ll spend the rest of the time trying to recover instead of compelling your audience.

Use Stories: Different types of humor work best in different situations. Bridge the gap with a funny story or anecdote from real life. Use the story to make a point, and let it launch you into your topic.

Let Your Humor Breathe: Sometimes you may find that you’re funny even when you didn’t mean to be. Allow your audience a moment to enjoy it. When laughs come, pause and let the roar start to fade like a passing train. Then start speaking again before the quiet fully returns.

Keep It Kind: If the object of your humor is someone else, make sure your audience is laughing WITH them and not AT them. Mean spirited humor can leave a lasting scar on your reputation.

It’s Okay to Make Fun of Yourself: A touch of self­-effacing humor can win over your audience if it’s gently applied. Don’t be afraid to be the butt of good humor. A dash of vulnerability can make you seem like a more sympathetic character. Remember, a little goes a long way.

Your own brand of humor can be an original, effective way of delivering important messages to your clients and colleagues. You’ll build stronger bonds with them and stand out from the crowd.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.






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Get access to some of the world’s top minds on Leadership and Motivation in this new iPhone app.This powerful library in a unique universal app will motivate and inspire you to change and improve your life and the lives of others.

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Effective Leadership – the 7 C’s of Getting Result


Have you ever been cornered into buying something you didn’t really want? If you’re like most people, you’ve stocked your cupboards with more than your fair share of Girl Scout Cookies and other non-essentials sold door to door by smiling, big-eyed neighbor kids. It’s almost impossible to resist.

Good LeasdershipTime and again, people in cultures around the world have exhibited certain predictable responses to everyday situations. In fact, you see it everywhere. Because of these common reactions, it’s possible to predict behavior and influence people to adopt a specific point of view.

Unfortunately our common reactions make it possible for us to be manipulated by the unscrupulous – or simply the big-eyed cookie vendor. Politicians, salespeople, network marketers, entrepreneurs, colleagues, friends and family all have a stake in getting us to agree to their requests.

However, there is much to be mined here for the sake of effectiveness on the job.

If you find yourself in a Leadership role, you can gain from the gentle art of persuasion and take a cue from these common responses. You can apply the concept to Leadership for consistent results that look good on you – and your business. With the right approach, you can turn the tables and start getting the results you want.

Navigating the 7 C’s

There are 7 essentials for effective Leadership that you can apply to your projects or your organization starting today. They all happen to start with the letter “C”. In no particular order, here they are.

Care – Influence of any kind requires rapport. This means you have to care to some degree about the people you want to influence. What do you have to offer that will benefit them? What’s their greatest pain? What are their aspirations? Remember that people are most responsive to those who are interested in them and share common values.

The famous landmark book by Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends and Influence People, can be summed up in two words: genuine interest. You can use your voice and body language to demonstrate your sincere enthusiasm, and make eye contact to get full engagement.

Communicate with Questions – Listen first. Communication is an interchange of information – a two-way street. Getting your message across depends on hearing and responding to the other person’s point of view. Learn from your interactions with them. Ask questions. Care about their responses, and express your expectations clearly.

Listening isn’t merely a matter of waiting for your turn to speak. Don’t wait quietly then jump in to tell your story. Make sure you ask questions and thoroughly understand their point of view. Be careful in your responses so your conversation doesn’t appear to be a verbal competition. Let it be cooperative.

Clarify – Not only do you want to get clear on your own your core values, but you also want to get clear on what people are communicating to you. A psychologist named Carl Rogers perfected a process called Reflective Listening back in the 50′s (click here for an overview on Wikipedia). When you ask clarifying questions, this will show up in your “music” – the things you say and the way you say them. When you’re clear on your own position, it’s much easier to persuade others to your point of view.

Consider – If the other person has a different perspective, find out more about why they have that point of view. The more you consider the reasons behind their thinking, the more you can understand them or perhaps help them to better understand your point of view. Weigh all sides of the question, and take the full picture into consideration.

Competence – Understand the details of the process that you and your team are pursuing. Enjoy at least a top line level of knowledge about the steps involved in completing your objective. When you do, it will be easier to understand the needs of the people you’re leading. Bringing in the project according to your objectives will be a breeze.

Consistency – Research shows that we have an in-born desire to be and to appear consistent. Once we’ve made a decision, we feel pressure to act consistently with that commitment. Once a commitment is made, we tend to table the topic and consider the matter settled.

Back in 1998, a Chicago restaurant was plagued with last minute reservation cancellations. But when they started asking customers for a commitment in the form of a question – “Will you please call if you have to change your plans?” – the no-show rate fell from 30% to 10%. To be effective as a Leader, ask your people if they will commit, and wait for their response. Require their consistency. Likewise, be consistent with your own commitments, and you’ll lead your people by example.

Completion – Personal accountability from yourself as well as your team will mean the difference between success and failure. Complete your objectives, and follow through. Don’t allow the agenda to change week by week.

Do you hold people individually responsible for meeting company objectives? When your people fail, as we all do from time to time, do you hold them responsible for sharing the benefit of their hard-won wisdom with the group? Have you created a culture that values personal accountability as a tool? Are you rewarding people for taking personal ownership for big-picture results?

To be an effective leader, it’s essential to stay in touch with the people you’re leading. It’s starts with caring about them and your mission. It takes involvement with them through the unfolding process and seeing it through to the end.

It means choosing activities and objectives that are worthwhile – appropriate for you, your values and dreams. Otherwise you might as well be selling non-essentials door-to-door. Those jobs are already filled by worthy, big-eyed 6-year-olds. You wouldn’t want to compete with the Girl Scouts, would you? No, of course not.

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icon1February 9, 2015
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Leadership and Drive: Accessing the Power of Teamwork


A mentor of mine once said there are two reasons for doing anything: the STATED reason, and the REAL reason. The REAL reason is the thing that impels us to act.

Group of Multiethnic Designers BrainstormingSo, what drives us into action?

The REAL reason is what makes a football player finish a championship game with a taped-up dislocated elbow – an injury that would send most guys to the hospital begging for morphine. It takes a strong dose of conviction to get back into the game with such a debilitating injury.

When I was 22 and living in Anchorage, I attended dog races for fun. The REAL reason is what causes an Alaskan musher to bundle up and drive a team of sled dogs 1,100 miles through the dark and wintry sub-arctic wilderness. Running the fiercely competitive race known as the Iditarod could only happen with a very good REAL reason. Yet it happens every year.

The REAL reason is what makes a soldier stay awake for three days, what makes a fireman return to a burning building, what makes a scientist review the results of an experiment just one more time.

The REAL reason is what’s known as Drive. The beauty of it is, we all have it.

Each one of us can be a champion under the right circumstances. With the right leadership, we can all tap into our own inner drive and bring home incredible results against all odds.

Capitalizing On the Inner Game

As leaders, we can tap into the drive that motivates the people we are charged with leading and reveal their finest strengths to the world – and to themselves.

The word “drive” is defined as an inner urge that stimulates activity or inhibition; a vigorous onset or onward course toward a goal or objective.

If you find yourself leading a team, there’s only one way you’re going to get to know what drives the players as individuals. First you have to get to know them as people, find out what makes them tick, touch their minds and motives.

No one was ever pushed across the finish line and called a winner. Winning comes from the inside, from the inner drive – from the real reason. Winning is evoked, coaxed like a feral cat out of the shadows. Winning is invoked, not imposed.

Driving the Team to Win

If you find yourself leading a typical pack, you’ll notice that they’re probably a pretty diverse group. They come from varied backgrounds, and they have plenty of different real reasons.

This is actually a good thing. Their diversity is your strength. It’s up to you to unite them to work as a team.

You’ll want to be cautious, though, not to completely dampen the wild individuality inside them. Instead, you can channel it to work for the benefit of your common cause. Here are questions you can ask yourself to accomplish just that.

Getting the Team Together: Do my people have a clear sense of where we’re going and why? Do they know the role they need to play? Is each player holding the right position?

Playing By the Rules: Are my decisions and actions consistent with our stated goals? Are my team members aware of those decisions? Are we all striding together? Does your team personally understand and agree with the direction?

Using the Right Equipment: Have I created a culture that values drive as a tool? Does our culture embrace the value of the individual as well as the cohesion of the team? Do they have the tools they need, not just to play the game, but to win?

In It To Win It: Am I rewarding my team for taking on the tough duties? For making critical decisions? For giving their all?

The reason for doing anything may seem obvious to us all, at least on the surface. Harnessing the REAL reason – the inner drive – and putting it to work will inevitably yield the fruits of victory.

What will spur you on to play your best game? Your victory cup is waiting!

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icon1February 2, 2015
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Leadership and Endurance: Staying Up When Things Look Down


Endurance-Shackleton

Everyday the world is made fresh, and no two days are alike. No one stays the same from day to day, or even moment to moment, because each experience brings new opportunities and fresh perspective.

We touched on this lightly in a previous article, Effective Leadership: Igniting the Vision for Others. You can tap this concept and put it to work on your behalf.

Today is a whole new day. Today your spouse is different. Your coworkers and colleagues are, too. Your friends and companions are 24 hours older today than they were yesterday, bringing with them a world of new encounters. Because of this, the way they think today is different from yesterday, no matter how slight that difference is.

If you keep this in mind, it will cast a fresh light on your world and your way of thinking. You can get to know them all over again each time you connect.

Even you are different.

Your cells are renewed constantly. I’m told that there isn’t a cell in your body that’s older than 7 years, right now, no matter what your birth certificate says.

If you trim an eighth of an inch off your fingernails, that means you cut away one month’s worth of growth. Think of all the things your fingertips touched in the past month, all the experiences your fingernails had during that brief span of time. Has your mind grown as much?

And what about your enthusiasm?

Does your perspective need a little freshness dating? Every now and then it’s a good idea to check the contents of your head and throw out the ideas that are past their peak.

Without even being aware of it, a repetitive routine can let boredom creep in, stale yawns trudging on the heels of monotony. Before you know it, your enthusiasm has tanked and you’re not sure why.

The Hazards of Breaking New Ground

If you’re in a position of Leadership, the habit of stale thinking can spread like a deadly-dull virus through your team and the others around you. If you’re not careful, it can spread to your home life and your other relationships too. This can play havoc with your success, both personally and professionally.

Here’s a case where maintaining a fresh perspective aboard a sinking ship was literally a matter of life and death. There’s much to be mined from it on the topic of Leadership.

About a hundred years ago, a crew of 27 men (and 70 sled dogs) led by Ernest Shackleton sailed from South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic. Their intent was to land on the coast of Antarctica and trek across it shore to shore on foot, something no one else had done before. Unfortunately, they never even got to their destination.

The ocean between South America and Antarctica is notorious as a sailor’s graveyard, owing to high winds, deep swells and no small smattering of icebergs. Just six weeks after they began their voyage, the ship Endurance was lodged in an ice floe somewhere in the Weddell Sea. A few weeks later, it sank.

It took Shackleton and his crew some 18 months to return to South Georgia Island. During that time they camped on the ice, sailed across mountainous swells in little more than row boats, endured frostbite, hunger and desolation, never knowing if they’d see home again. But they persevered, and they did return.

It seems to me, if you were a crew member on the Endurance, you’d need a whole lot of enthusiasm for the taste of adventure. Just to get on the boat, you’d have to have a pretty tough inner game, a love of dogs, and a whole lot of gear.

You’d also need a very big idea about why the trip was necessary. There would be many chances to give up, all of them good ones.

The greatest threat to their successful return after the shipwreck was not so much the idea of quitting while they faced danger amid the storms and swells.

The greatest jeopardy to morale would have been the days on end of relative monotony – the cold, the gray, the unending sameness of their diet. There was no sound but their own voices, the wind, and the water lapping against the ice for the nearly 700 days of their journey.

The Rewards for Renewed Perspective

Surviving through this kind of ordeal takes a kind of camaraderie and a freshness of spirit that’s hard to find in this era or any other.

Every person on Shackleton’s team brought a set of skills essential for the mission. As a leader, Shackleton must have been keenly aware of this. Each one of the crew contributed a unique perspective to the group, along with the experiences gained during each whole new day. Together they persevered, and their survival itself was a triumph.

Whether you commute to work in an office, plow a field all day, or sit at home and knit, you are selecting the moments of your life and the thoughts that go along with them.

Now is a great time to give your enthusiasm a boost and see your surroundings through fresh eyes. Why not take time out for a little shift in perspective today?

You can give your doldrums the brush off while you trim your fingernails and think about where your fingers have been during the past month. If you find it dull, promise your hands that they’ll have a more stirring adventure to tell next time.

This article on Endurance and Enthusiasm is
part of our ongoing Leadership series.

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icon1January 26, 2015
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Leadership and Ambition: Get Your Dream Into High Gear


What’s your greatest ambition? Do you know where the road of life is taking you? Do you know who’s taking the ride with you – those who share your ambitions?

Ambition fuels your goals, ignites the fire of life that kindles behind your eyes. It makes smoke curl from your nostrils as the restless engine of your desire is stoked when you contemplate your ultimate success. It torques your actions into high gear, and impels those around you to act with vigor on your behalf.

Chasing The Horizon

For many people, the idea of getting a great job and staying with the same company is their ambition. However, this scenario is largely becoming a thing of the past and having three or more careers in a lifetime is now the norm. This fact carries with it both an opportunity and a daunting responsibility to become clear on your own ambitions.

Don’t Arrive by Accident

It’s all too common to find that you’ve arrived on your current path through a series of coincidences, each one taking you a little farther away from the dreams you had when you first started. For most people, there is a huge gap between the results they get and the results they want.

Whether starting your own company or as an employee, more and more people are unsure of their ambitions. If you’re one of them, maybe it’s time to take time out, sit back and have a talk with yourself.

For example, some years ago I had a buddy who was confronted by just such a challenge. When we were both fresh out of college, we both went to work for Xerox selling office copiers.

Jeff and I had met years before in college, bonding over Top Raman and the love of fast cars. Jeff drove a Porsche and we took that car to every pizza joint near our campus (my college car was a classic VW Fastback, no match for the Porsche). We both shared a passion for starting our own business and becoming the next Henry Ford. Some things just don’t need to be explained.

After college, he had a successful career with Xerox followed by stints with other Fortune 500 companies like HP and Dell. He worked his way up into an executive position, in time making a pretty good salary with cushy corporate benefits. He was tied to his job with a velvet rope, plush but limiting.

Let me say here that Jeff did not aspire to be a corporate employee. For years, Jeff would talk with me about getting the nerve to “make the jump” and pursue a tech start-up.

Once you’ve been in corporate life for a while, you may feel locked into your job and your plush lifestyle, the way my friend did. Unless you get in touch with your true ambitions, your only options are to move sideways to another company or to move upward in the hierarchy of the company.

So what do you do? The answer is to finally ask yourself that most elusive question: what do you want to be doing five years from now? Ten? Twenty? What is your true ambition?

These are the questions my friend Jeff avoided asking himself for years, as the time slipped by and the rut got deeper. If your own answer isn’t “exactly what I’m doing now” then what you need is decisive action. Not tomorrow: today.

What my friend didn’t realize is that forging out a life’s ambition, or a major definite purpose, isn’t all that difficult. He was afraid of taking a momentary step back in his lifestyle for the sake of pursuing his longtime dream of starting his own company.

Eventually Jeff got his chance, seizing an opportunity to exercise his expertise in mobile technology.

Over time, he grew his idea into a steady business with the CTO’s of major cellular phone companies. He even has staff, inventory and a schedule of glamorous tradeshows he attends on an annual circuit. It’s a career he loves, but he never would have gotten there without making a change – the thing he dreaded the most.

If you can free yourself from the fear and pessimism that commonly confront change, you can free up enormous reserves of energy to fuel your dreams.

Getting Your Goals Into High Gear

In order for things to get better, things have to change. Even if your ambition lies a bit farther down the road you’re already on, progress means change. Anything else will mean stagnation.

Whatever your ambition is, the chances are that there’s an opportunity for your next step not far away from where you are right now. The key to your dreams lies somewhere in your immediate surroundings.

If your ambition really is something you’ve seriously wanted to do, then it should be as simple as getting started and getting noticed. It’s okay to start small. If your first steps don’t work out the way you’d hoped, don’t give up. Keep your ambition in sight, letting it always fuel the passion for your dreams.

Whether you succeed or fail, it’s always better to try. At least you won’t find yourself years from now asking those two most terrible words: “What if…?”

Living out your ambition is not as hard to do as you think, especially when your actions are powered by your true passions. So what are you waiting for? Drop it down a gear and hit the gas! You never know what’s waiting for you around the bend.


icon1January 19, 2015
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Effective Leadership: Igniting the Vision for Others


I recently read an antique book on Time Management called How To Live on 24 Hours A Day. It was written by a man named Arnold Bennett at the dawn of what we now know as the Personal Development movement, way back in 1910.

Image of businesswoman looking in telescope standing atop of roc

You’d think a book written at that time would be full of outdated ideas and dull platitudes. That wasn’t the case. In fact, you’d probably find it surprisingly easy to read, relatable and uplifting. I was amazed by how little Western culture has changed in the 100+ years since Bennett penned this work.

Much of what he discusses in the book has to do with the mentally exhausted middle class, people who have time for little more than their daily commute and a 40-hour work week.

Without saying it in obvious terms, his topic is really about Self-Leadership.

Instead of giving in to the status quo, Bennett offers a more deliberate approach, one that infuses life with vitality. He takes aim at the creeping feeling that time is ebbing away, that life is slipping through your fingers day by day, and he offers a solution that’s so simple, few actually practice it. Then as now, the simplest solutions often had trouble gaining credibility.

Besides Self-Leadership, I believe these ideas can and should be applied to leading a team. Infusing life with passion, crafting a vision and keeping the vision aloft for others can mean the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary, both in business and life.

Why Leadership Requires Going On A “Time Diet”

Bennett suggests that by investing small amounts of time on a regular basis in a goal or topic that deeply fascinates you, every part of your life will change. Your senses will become heightened, and you’ll bring a new intensity to everything you do.

For my part, I agree with him, and many of my own activities reflect this habit. Besides running my own publishing company and a thriving consultancy, my work as a published author keeps me hopping from event to event. I also have plenty of outside interests and an active social life. By staying fully engaged, I feel truly alive in everything I do.

I was surprised to find that back in 1910, Bennett touched on this same point in his book. He goes on to say that each of us is given a whole new bank of time each day to use as we please. No one can steal it from us, and our “purse” of time is refilled continually.

For me, this reinforces the need to set goals and to employ some kind of structure in my schedule, what I call a time diet. Each of us has the option – in fact, the obligation – to deliberately choose how we spend our time and not waste it. This kind of focused effort speaks to the essence of Leadership.

It’s common knowledge that the wise ones shepherd their money, investing it instead of spending it, shrewdly calculating their next move, always keeping the end goal in mind.

And so it with time. The wise ones plan carefully, cultivate a vision, and work meticulously to reach the worthy goal. If you try to distract someone who is bent on an ambition, you’ll have a hard even getting their attention. Their major definite purpose obscures just about everything else.

What I love about this is the sense of freshness and renewal it brings. The start of the New Year particularly is perfect for reviewing the successes of the past year – and those unfortunate “oops” moments, the ones we so lovingly call “opportunities for improvement.” We’ve got a fresh calendar to work with, a clean slate without a blemish on it. It’s an excellent time to set goals and schedule tasks to achieve them. It’s an excellent time to corral others and recruit them to share your vision.

The Essence of Leadership

If you find yourself in a position of Leadership, you might be facing the New Year with a little extra weight on your shoulders. Not only do you have a glorious opportunity to shape the course of the coming year for yourself at home and at work, but you may have the chance to inspire others.

Many believe that leaders are born and not made. True, it’s useful to be born with certain qualities that give you a head start. However most of the traits of a good leader are learned.

In upcoming articles, we’ll be discussing the qualities of Leadership. We’ll take a look at the essence of Leadership, creating an inspiring vision, and ways you can communicate that vision to your team effectively.

Ironically, the word Leadership can be used as a Mnemonic device, touching on the elements of Leadership itself.

L – Logistics
E – Enthusiasm
A – Ambition
D – Drive
E – Effectiveness
R – Respect
S – Sensitivity
H – Humour
I – Integrity
P – Passion

In real life applications, your own approach to Leadership will need to be tailored and modified to fit your situation. Ultimately it starts with you and your determination to invest time in yourself – in those things that make you feel vitally alive.

Once you begin to fully engage, the ripple effect will touch the lives and deeds of those around you and those you are leading. You can influence them and perhaps even inspire a new generation of leaders.

Leaving a 100+ year legacy is surely a worthy goal, and in this case it was achieved by Arnold Bennett, author. Hats off to you, Mr. Bennett; your time was well spent.

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icon1January 5, 2015
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